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ARI@CHC: Hammel allows one earned run over seven

It's been a smooth transition so far for Jason Hammel to the Cubs, and on Sunday, he'll try to get the team back on track.

Hammel, who signed with Chicago on Feb. 16, just days before pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa, Ariz., has posted quality starts in each of his four outings. In his last start on Tuesday against the D-backs, he gave up one run on four hits over seven innings for the win.

The key? He's healthy.

"It feels good to be healthy and get back to what I was doing in 2012," Hammel said. "I'd like to say I expect more of this going forward, but the baseball season is a long season, and I'm just going to go start by start."

In 2012, Hammel went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts for the Orioles. He has made two starts at Miller Park and is 1-0; he's 3-0 in four career starts against the Brewers.

Milwaukee will counter with Wily Peralta, who also has had some success. So far, the Brewers are 4-0 in his starts, and he's had quality starts in three of the outings.

However, the Brewers will likely be without both shortstop Jean Segura and Ryan Braun. Segura needed stitches on his face after he was accidentally struck by Braun, who was swinging his bat in the dugout as he warmed up for the first inning. Segura did not suffer a concussion or fracture, and was listed as day to day.

Braun was lifted defensively in the ninth with an intercostal strain, and was to be re-evaluated on Sunday.

The Brewers have been on a roll, and head into the series finale with the best record in the Majors at 18-6.

"It's a fast start, because we're playing well and we're pitching great," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "Our offense has been good, but I think we can be better. If we get this kind of pitching, we're going to have a great year. I don't know whether we can maintain this, but I've said all along, I really like our five guys and I think they're capable of big things.

"Whether it's a fast start or a really good team, I think we're good," he said. "I think when everything is working right, we're really good."

Cubs: Veras to disabled list
Jose Veras not only is out as the Cubs closer, but now is on the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Veras was placed on the disabled list Saturday, retroactive to Friday.

"It bothered him for a couple days, and we decided this is the best thing to do for him to get him back on track and make sure he's good, and we'll go from there," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said.

Veras, who has made six appearances this season, said he's had some discomfort for a few days.

"I didn't pay attention to it, and then little by little, it got worse," he said. "I didn't say anything, because I didn't think it was a big deal and I felt I could pitch like that."

Veras was removed from the closer's job after blowing a two-run lead on April 11 against the Cardinals, and has made two appearances since then. He pitched on Thursday, and gave up two runs in one inning against the D-backs. Could this be a good time for a mental break?

"It might, sure," Renteria said. "You give yourself a little distance. He feels he hasn't done what he should be doing. Maybe it'll clear his mind a little bit, and hopefully he's feeling physically better, and we can move forward."

Brewers: Right place, right time
Francisco Rodriguez has been a workhouse for the Brewers and that doesn't surprise Roenicke.

"He's got guys guessing what he's throwing," Roenicke said of his closer. "It makes it difficult. I have no idea what he's throwing."

Rodriguez improved to 11-for-11 in save situations with another save on Saturday in Milwaukee's 5-3 win over the Cubs. The right-hander now owns the franchise record for saves in March and April. Francisco Cordero held the mark of 10 set in 2007.

What's even more impressive about Rodriguez's performance is that he was unable to follow his normal offseason workout because of political unrest near his home in Venezuela. When he arrived in Arizona for Spring Training, he stepped on a cactus with his bare foot and was hobbled until the painful spines worked their way out.

"He's able to adjust really fast, that's because he's athletic," Roenicke said. "Even though maybe we didn't build him up the way he's used to being built up, I think he can figure things out."

"He's got a lot of experience and a lot of maturity now," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Rodriguez. "He's probably coming into his own from a mental standpoint. Experience has a way of doing that, plus he's had some experience in the past."

Worth noting:
• Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta gave up two runs -- one earned -- on two hits and one walk over two innings and struck out two in a rehab start Saturday for Double-A Tennessee against Huntsville. He threw 44 pitches, 25 for strikes. It could be his last tuneup before he joins the big league team. As of Saturday, Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start Wednesday.

• The Brewers are a season-high 12 games over .500, and have won seven of their last eight games. They're also 24-5 in the last 29 games against the Cubs at Miller Park.

• Marco Estrada improved to 5-0 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 career games (seven starts) against the Cubs with his win on Saturday.

• Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has reached safely in each of his last 12 games at Miller Park, dating back to Aug. 22, 2012. He's batting .306 (15-for-49) in that stretch. Comments